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unit 1 The History And Compilation Of The Holy Quran
Mohammed Mahbboob Hussain Aazaad
Nurul Ain Farhana Rizduan
shukri omar ali
safi ullah Khan
Abubakar Surajo Ibrahim Kirare
A Companion to World Literature
Ali Altaf Mian
Muhammad Nabeel Musharraf
Syed Hussyin Shah
Bassam Michael Madany
Caner K Dagli
Attahir Shehu Mainiyo
Aisha Barbara Farina
Dr. RIAZ AHMAD SAEED
fakulti Pengajian Quran dan Sunnah Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Zahir Z Rahman
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Auwal Abubakar Muhammad
DR Mehwish Noor
Joseph Lumbard , Maria M Dakake
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Assignment#1: Introduction And Compilation Of Quran
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COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT ASSIGNMENT#1 INTRODUCTION AND COMPILATION OF QURAN Introduction of Quran: Holy Quran is
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COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT ASSIGNMENT#1 INTRODUCTION AND COMPILATION OF QURAN Introduction of Quran: Holy Quran is the 4th and last sacred book of Almighty Allah revealed on Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Quran is the Book of guidance for all mankind. The responsibility of the safety of this Holy Book is taken by Almighty Allah by Himself. Quran is a source of great inspiration, guidance, and wisdom for millions of Muslims all over the world. We all should know the history of revelation and compilation of Quran so that we can understand how important this Holy Book is for all of us (Muslims). Quran is the central point of faith, and essential to the foundations of an Islamic society being the basis of its shariah, Islamic legal instructions, and law. We can say Holy Quran is a living miracle. The Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in a period that extends to about 23 years. During this time the Holy Quran that we recite today was revealed in bits and pieces and in an order not as we see today. In this article, we will discuss the aspect of Quran by describing its revelation and the measures are taken to preserve it or compilation of Quran over the Muslim history. Dignity of Holy Quran: Before starting the discussion on to the revelation and preservation of Quran it is important that we all should understand the merits or dignity of Quran and what Allah Almighty has said about its preservation and divine nature in Quran. In Quran, Allah Almighty says: “And we have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a guide, a mercy and glad tidings to Muslims.” (Quran, 16:89) COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT Quran is the book of guidance, mercy and glad tidings. Other than that we as a Muslim should believe Quran is the Book free of doubts. The authenticity of Quran in terms of its preservation is concerned, Allah Almighty says in Quran: “We have without doubt, sent down the message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (Quran, 15:9). So, we can say that the Quran in its present form is the same as it was revealed and there can be no doubt regarding its being Divine in nature and a source of guidance without any doubt or reservation. Revelation of Quran: Holy Quran was revealed to last Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the form of revelation. In Islamic terminology, revelation can be literally defined as “Allah’s divine message conveyed to Allah’s chosen persons (Prophets).” Descriptions of revelation are also given in the Holy Quran: “So we sent this inspiration to the mother of Musa.” (Quran, 28:7). “This is part of the tidings of the unseen which we reveal unto thee (oh Prophet) by inspiration”. (Quran, 3:44) Quran revealed in form of revelation which was made open to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by Allah Almighty in different forms, either during sleep, while awake, with imprint on His heart, or Gabriel brought the verses in his original or humanly forms from time to time. The process of revelation of Quran started in the month of Ramadan as Allah (SWT) mentioned in Quran: “Ramadan is the (month) in which we sent down the Quran.” (Quran, 2:185) The Quran was not revealed in one instance but through a gradual process with small numbers of Ayahs revealed at any one time. Allah Almighty also explains the reason behind the in-parts revelation of Quran over a period of 23 years. Allah says in Quran: COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT “(It is) a Quran which we have divided (into parts from time to time), in order that thou mightiest recite it to men. At intervals we have revealed it by stages.” (Quran, 17:106) Hence there was a step by step process of revelation where the verses were revealed at specific instances to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) making it easy to circulate and propagate the information to the followers of Islam. So the divine message of Allah (SWT) was revealed slowly to allow the new Muslim Arabs to change and accept the new faith Islam and live their lives according to teachings of Islam. Revelation in stages also created a constant link between Allah Almighty and His Beloved Prophet (SAW) giving moral support in times of need and distress: “Thus (it is revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart.” (Al-Furqan, 25:106) Thus we can conclude from this we have a solution of every problem which we are facing in our lives in the Holy Book Quran. Compilation of Quran: In the beginning, Quran was recorded in form of memorizing the verses of Holy Quran. But later the process of compilation of Quran started to preserve it in form of Book. When it comes to the compilation of Quran, it has been divided into specific parts and time in the history where different Muslim rulers at different times made different contributions to make the compilation of Quran better and more reliable. We will discuss the different stages of the compilation of Quran throughout the Islamic history which has made it possible to view and read Quran in its present form. First Stage during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW): First time the compilation process of Quran was started in the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). In this stage, the arrangement and order of the Surahs and Ayahs were specified by the Prophet (SAW) and the text was written down. However, at this stage, the Quran was not compiled into a single book, comparatively was available in separate sheepskin COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT and was memorized in its integrity by several companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). So, the initial compilation was started in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Second Stage during the Reign of Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A): The second stage of compilation took place during the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A). In the battle of Yamama a large number of sahaba, who had memorized Quran, were martyred. This became a source of quiet concern for many companions of the Prophet (SAW) and they feared about the preservation of Quran. Therefore, Hazrat Umer (R.A) suggested to the Caliph that the Quran should be collected and compiled into a single book in order to ensure its preservation. Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A) liked the idea but was afraid because the Prophet (SAW) himself had never taken this step and He (R.A) feared that this action might be considered a discrepancy from the However, later on, he had a change of heart and ordered Hazrat Zain bin Saabit (R.A) to be the chief scriber and work on compiling the Quran in a book form. All of the members of the commission were renowned Haffaz (memorizers) of the Quran, i.e. they had already memorized it in its entirety. After listening to various Haffaz, crossreferencing it with the different written verses of Quran found on tree leaves, scorch and leather skins, he compiled a final copy of Quran which was then presented to Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A). Once the whole text was collected and compiled, the commission carefully proofread it and certified that it was correct and present in its entirety. So, the first Book version of Quran was compiled in the life of Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A) the first caliph of Islam. Third Stage during the Reign of Hazrat Usman (R.A): During the era of the third Caliph Usman (R.A) a serious issue related to the recitation of the Quran raised. Despite the text of the Quran was universally accepted, Arabs from different parts of the Islamic state recited it according to their dialect. These presented two problems: firstly, that everybody considered their dialect to be correct which gave rise to disputes; and secondly, it was feared that if this went on, there will be no universally accepted version of Quran left. From overcoming these problems Hazrat Usman (R.A) requested Hazrat Hafsa (R.A) to provide the earlier compilation of Quran so that more copies could be made out of it. Moreover, He also formed a committee consisting of Hazrat Zain bin Haris (R.A) and a few COMPILATION OF QURAN ISLAMIYAT other Companions to make sure that they agree on the pronunciation of the original copy and produce more versions of that copy in the very same way. The commission prepared the text accordingly and then several copies were made and sent to different parts of the Islamic state with the instructions that only this should be considered the official and authentic text of Quran. Since that day the Holy Quran has remained in its original intact form and will remain as such in the future by the Grace and Blessings of Allah Almighty.
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History of the compilation of Quran
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The companions of Prophet Muhammad served in transferring the Islamic holy book to future generations. The Quran was compiled into a book in the time of the first caliph, Abu Bakr
The journey of the Quran, which began to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan in 610, in its original form to the present day is a characteristic that none of the previous sacred books have.
The companions of Prophet Muhammad, who were great people, played an important role in the compilation of the Quran, leaving an interesting story behind.
During the 23 years of Muhammad's time as a prophet, the verses of the Quran were memorized as they were revealed, and about 42 scribes wrote the verses on different materials such as paper, cloth, bone fragments and leather.
In ancient times, literacy was a skill that few people had and Muhammad himself did not know how to read or write.
During the time of Caliph Abu Bakr, when 70 people who knew the Quran by heart (qari), were killed in the Battle of Yamama, Umar ibn al-Khattab became concerned and appealed to Abu Bakr in order to compile the Quran into a book.
Abu Bakr formed a delegation under the leadership of Zaid ibn Thabit, one of the leading scribes.
This delegation of 12 people, including famous figures such as Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Talha ibn Ubaydullah, Abdullah ibn Masood, Ubayy ibn Kab, Khalid ibn al-Walid, Hudhaifah and Saleem, came together in Umar's house and collected all the materials on which verses from the Quran were written.
In addition, the verses memorized by the companions were heard as well. Each of them was asked to show two witnesses for the verse they read.
Thus, all the verses of the Quran that describe the creation of the universe and people, judgment day, exemplary stories of the people who lived before and the beliefs, worship, morals and legal bases that believers should obey were collected together into a single-volume book. Each of the verses was taught by the archangel Gabriel and declared by Prophet Muhammad. The verse is the name given to each sentence of the Quran and the surah is the name given to each part of the holy book. There are 6,236 verses, 114 surahs and about 323,000 letters in the Quran.
Saeed ibn al-Aas, who was renowned for the beauty of his handwriting, wrote them down on gazelle skin. The writing used was the Arabic script of the time, which was already old and used commonly at that time in Hejaz.
The companions reached a consensus that this writing, which was used by Prophet Ismail in Hejaz, is the writing of Muslims.
The copy of the Quran was recited to the companions at a general meeting. There was no objection. So, a book called "mushaf" emerged, which means written verses.
A total of 33,000 companions agreed that every letter of the Quran was in the right place. Then this mushaf was sent to Umar ibn al-Khattab. After his death, this book passed on to Hazrat Hafsah, the daughter of Umar and a wife of Prophet Muhammad.
Dialect of Quraysh
A difference was observed in the recitation of the Quran in the Armenia battles between Muslims from Damascus and Iraq during the period of the third caliph, Uthman.
Hudhaifah, one of the companions, went before the caliph on his way back from an expedition and asked him to prevent this.
On the 25th year of the hijra (647), Uthman gathered a delegation attended by Abdullah ibn al-Zubair, Saeed ibn al-Aas and Abd al-Rahman ibn Harith under the leadership of Zaid ibn Thabit. All of them, except for Zaid, were from Quraysh. Uthman said that the dialect of Quraysh should be preferred if they were to fall into conflict with Zaid regarding the dialect, since Muhammad was from the Quraysh tribe. The Quran had been revealed in seven dialects of the Arabic language of the time.
The first Muslims who were literate could easily read the writing of their own language, but somewhat differently, since at the time the Arabic script did not have diacritical marks to differentiate letters or vowel symbols.
For example, those from the Tameem tribe pronounced the letter "sin" as "te" and read the word "nas" as "nat." It was diverse and convenient, and did not change the meaning.
The delegation brought the original mushaf from Hafsah. In this mushaf, the surahs were not separated from each other. The surahs were sorted according to the order of their descent in Ali's manuscript and according to their lengths in the manuscript of Abdullah ibn Masood.
Now the verses were written in the Quraysh dialect. The surahs were arranged in rows, separated from each other regarding their length and alignment with each other. The order of the surahs was not based on the order the archangel Gabriel gave them to Prophet Muhammad, but on the consensus of the companions.
The old copies were destroyed to prevent future conflicts. Because of this, there are some Shia sects that accusing Uthman of changing the Quran.
From the new copy, some mushafs were also written on parchment and sent to different places such as Bahrain, Damascus, Basra, Kufa, Yemen and Mecca, accompanied by a qari. There are also rumors that copies were sent to Egypt and Jazeera.
The copy that stayed with the caliph was called al-Mushaf al-Imam (the head mushaf). There is no difference between the mushafs recited around the world today since they were all copied from original copies.
Thus, the Quran was written during Muhammad's lifetime, while its compilation was done during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and it was copied during the caliphate of Uthman.
Uthman also established special schools for the correct recitation and writing of the Quran. During the caliphate of Ali, saw the introduction of diacritical marks. During the time of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, vowel marks were also added.
Since then, countless Muslims have memorized the Quran. In the month of Ramadan, the entire Quran is recited in the Tarawih prayer at the Kaaba. Even the slightest mistake can stand out to Muslims who know it well from all around the world.
Some of these first seven mushafs have disappeared over time. Today, in Topkapı Palace and the Museum of Turkish-Islamic Arts in Istanbul, there are mushafs from Uthman and Ali's period. One of them was handwritten by Uthman, and the other two by Ali.
While the copy in Egypt was in the Mosque of Amr ibn al-Aas, it was presented to Ottoman Sultan Selim II and brought to Topkapı Palace after the conquest of Egypt.
Some claim that this is in fact the copy from Medina and that the last survivor of the Abbasid family took it with him while escaping to Egypt from the Mongol massacre. It is said that due to a blood-like stain on it, this is the mushaf that Uthman read while he was martyred.
Other mushafs belonging to the first period of Islam are displayed in Al-Hussein Mosque in Cairo, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the British Library in London, Hast Imam Library in Tashkent and other museums.
A newly opened museum in Mecca also features verses of the Quran written on bones and stones. The verses written on rocks and stones in the seventh century in Arabia have also survived to the present day.
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The Quran: History of its Compilation
The Quran is the final Book of Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). After the opening chapter, the Quran states categorically that this is a book in which there is no doubt ( 2:2 ). Therefore, it should 1) be treated as a book and 2) as the only book carrying Allah’s stamp of approval of being doubt-free. No other book(s) can claim this status.
Since it is a book of guidance for all human beings ( 2:185 ), the Quran must have been written down and compiled as a book during the Prophet’s lifetime. How else would an unwritten book serve as the code of guidance for all? Apart from being doubt-free, this Book also has the unique distinction of having Allah’s seal of approval for its future protection: “We have revealed this Book ( Dhikr ) and We will protect it” ( 15:9 ). Its author, Allah, also categorically states that it is complete and unalterable ( 6:115 ).
In light of these verses it should have been enough for Muslims, at least, to accept that the Quran we have today is exactly the same as the one the Prophet (PBUH) gave to his companions. Allah took the responsibility of making sure that it was collected, compiled, and completed as a book. This 100% certainty could not have been possible except if it was done during the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH).
Throughout the world, all Muslims have the same Quran (in book form). There are no different versions of the Arabic Quran, since Allah guarantees that it is complete and fully protected. Why then should we have to find out how it was collected and compiled? Some historians and Imams – after more than 200 years after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) – started investigating how the Quran was collected and compiled. It was not that they were going to collect and compile the Quran themselves – this had been done already. They also knew that whatever they might find, was not going to change the text of the Quran in anyway – these Imams (including Imam Bukhari and Imam Tabari) had the same Arabic Quran in their hands as we have today.
Was their effort to investigate the history of the compilation of the Quran purely for academic reasons? It probably seems that way. Since their effort could not alter the text of the Quran, the only thing they could do was to produce their own books about it. Their works became popular among Muslim scholars and subsequently turned into a whole new field of knowledge called the ‘Ulum al-Quran or the Sciences of the Quran. There are now experts (scholars and professors) holding academic positions in this area. Allah says to all Muslims to ponder over the meanings of the Quran ( 4:82 , 47:24 ), but these scholars are more interested in pondering over the compilation of the Quran.
The fact that these investigations were started after more than 200 years after the Prophet (PBUH) is important and should not be overlooked. The only tool available to them for the investigation was to find the chain of narrators going back to the Prophet’s time. No matter how truthful the chain of narrators might have been, the chances of error due to lapses in memory cannot be ruled out – even if we assume that these narrators were completely truthful. So, how much reliability should be placed on these historical accounts based on oral narrations? Certainly not 100%.
Here is a hadith (Vol. 6 No. 201, pages 162-164, Translated by Dr. Muhsin Khan) from Sahih Bukhari [Imam Bukhari was born in 194 AH (810 CE) and died in 256 AH (870 CE)]:
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari, one of the scribes of the Revelation: Abu Bakr sent for me after the casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of Qurra were killed). ‘Umar was present with Abu Bakr who said: “Umar has come to me and said, the People have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle of) Yamama, and I am afraid that there will be some casualties among the Qurra (those who know the Qur’an by heart) at other places, whereby a large part of the Qur’an may be lost, unless you collect it. And I am of the opinion that you should collect the Qur’an.’ Abu Bakr added, ‘I said to ‘Umar, “How can I do something which Allah’s Apostle has not done?” ‘Umar said (to me) “By Allah, it is (really) a good thing”. So ‘Umar kept on pressing trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, till Allah opened my bosom for it and I had the same opinion as ‘Umar’. (Zaid bin Thabit added:) ‘Umar was sitting with him (Abu Bakr) and was not speaking. Abu Bakr said (to me), ‘You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness); and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah’s Apostle. Therefore, look for the Qur’an and collect it (in one manuscript)’. By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains (from its place) it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Qur’an. I said to both of them, ‘How dare you do a thing which the Prophet has not done?’ Abu Bakr said, ‘By Allah, it is (really) a good thing. So I kept on arguing with him about it till Allah opened my bosom for that which He had opened the bosoms of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. So I started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, and leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two verses of Suraat-at-Tauba which I had not found with anybody else (and they were 9:128-129 ). The manuscript on which the Qur’an was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with ‘Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa, ‘Umar’s daughter.
From this hadith we conclude:
-> That Prophet (PBUH) did not compile the Quran and did not give it to the Ummah in a book form. -> That ‘Umar (R) was the first one to realize that the Quran needed to be collected – and that, too, only after the battle of Yamama when he feared that too many Qurra (i.e., those who had memorized the entire Quran) might die due to future wars. That Abu Bakr (R) initially resisted this suggestion because he did not want to do something that the Prophet (PBUH) himself did not do. -> That ‘Umar (R) swore by Allah and told Abu Bakr (R) that it was a good thing to do. And ‘Umar (R) kept pressing Abu Bakr (R) till Allah opened his heart to accept the proposed idea. -> That after Abu Bakr (R) was convinced of the idea he asked Zaid bin Thabit (R) to find the revelations of the Quran and to start collecting and compiling them. -> That Zaid bin Thabit (R) resisted the idea initially. (Zaid bin Thabit (R) resisting the order of the Khalifa of the Islamic state?) In any case, Abu Bakr (R) kept pressing Zaid bin Thabit (R) till Allah finally opened his heart to accept the proposed idea. But he found the task extremely difficult: collecting the Quran would be harder than moving a mountain, in his opinion. One is led to think why it would be left undone by the Prophet (PBUH). -> That, in any case, Zaid bin Thabit (R) accepted this responsibility and started collecting the Quran. -> That the verses of the Quran were scattered on parchments, scapula, and leafstalks of date palms. -> That Zaid bin Thabit (R) found all the verses of the Quran except the last two verses of Surah Al-Tauba which he finally found with Khuzaima bin Thabit (R). -> That the material on which Zaid bin Thabit (R) prepared his manuscript of the Quran is not mentioned in this hadith. Did he use paper? If he did, then why didn’t the original scribes use it to record the revelation during the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH)? Didn’t our Prophet (PBUH) know that palm leafstalks are not a very reliable way to protect the Quran? (It is reported in Sunan ibn Maajah that ‘Aisha’s (R) goat ate two of the verses of the Quran that were written on palm leafstalk.) -> That Abu Bakr (R) kept the suhuf (the manuscript with loose chapters) prepared by Zaid bin Thabit (R). -> That Abu Bakr (R) did not get this suhuf put together in the form of a book during his lifetime. Neither did he distribute copies of this earliest collected manuscript of the Quran to the people.
Keep in mind that Abu Bakr (R) was the Khalifa (the head of the Islamic the State) at the time. Compiling Quran was certainly not for his private use only. It would have been for public use as well as being a guide for the Islamic state. While accepting the caliphate, Abu Bakr (R) had asked the people to keep a close eye on his actions and point out if any were against Allah and the Prophet (PBUH). If the people did not have the same copy of the Quran that the Khalifa had, how were they to judge if any of his actions were against the word of Allah?
Also, why didn’t he officially order the destruction of any other versions kept by the Companions? To destroy them would have been the proper course of action because there was a long list of Companions who were reported to have had their own written collections that differed from one another. These included the following: Ibn Mas’ud, Ubay bin Ka’b, ‘All, Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Musa, Hafsa, Anas bin Malik, ‘Umar, Zaid bin Thabit, Ibn Al-Zubair, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, ‘A’isha, Salim, Umm Salama, ‘Ubaid bin ‘Umar. [Abi Dawud: Musahif, p.14, quoted by Ahmad Von Denffer in his book ‘Ulum al-Quran ]
It was also known that ‘A’isha and Hafsa had their own scripts written after the Prophet passed away. [M. Rahimuddin (Transl.): Muwatta Imam Malik, Lahore, 1980, No. 307, 308; Malik b. Anas: Al-Muwatta, Cairo,n.d., p.15. (Quoted in ‘Ulum al-Quran )]
The differences in the above collections are listed in the book ‘Ulum al-Quran , pages 47-52. Why did Abu Bakr (R) allow these differences to continue? And why did ‘Umar (R) let them continue during his lifetime?
According to reports in hadith literature, at the time of ‘Uthman, the differences in reading the Qur’an became so obvious that, after consultation with the Companions, ‘Uthman (R) had a standard copy prepared from the suhuf of Abu Bakr (R) which was kept with Hafsa. He ordered all other copies destroyed.
The following is the report transmitted in Sahih Bukhari [Volume 6, No. 510, pages 478-479]:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to ‘Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to ‘Uthmfin, ‘O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur’an), as Jews and the Christians did before’. So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, ‘Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you’. Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Sa’id bin Al-‘As and ‘Abdur Rahman bin Hari-bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, ‘In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish as the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue’. They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. Zaid bin Thabit added, ‘A verse from Sura al-Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur’an which I used to hear Allah’s Apostle reciting. So we searched and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari’. (That verse was): ‘Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah’ ( 33:23 ).
Several points are worth pondering here:
-> Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman was afraid of differences in the recitation of the Quran of the people of Sham (Syria) and Iraq. So he pleaded with Khalifa ‘Uthman (R) to save the Muslim nation from this difference. -> Was this difference in the pronunciation of the Arabic words of the Quran? It does not seem so from this hadith. (Even now, there are differences in the recitation of Arabic text by Muslims from different areas of the world although they have the same copy of the Quran.) So, Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman’s fear must have been due to differences in the Arabic text of the Quran between the people of Syria and Iraq. -> The committee of four appointed by Khalifa ‘Uthman (R) included Zaid bin Thabit (R) whom Khalifa Abu Bakr (R) had earlier asked to compile the Quran. The committee’s effort was to start with Zaid bin Thabit’s copy which was now in possession of Hafsa, Khalifa ‘Umar’s daughter. -> Zaid bin Thabit (R) missed copying a verse from Surah Ahzab which he used to hear the Prophet (PBUH) reciting. The other three committee members must have also missed it. Was this verse in Hafsa’s copy that Zaid bin Thabit (R) had originally prepared? -> However much we may try to reconcile the contradiction contained in these two ahaadith, we cannot deny the fact that they cause at least some doubt in the Quran’s status of 100% infallibility. One can only wonder what contradictions, if any, may be in the other multitude of ahaadith collected on this subject and that have been put together in the book Kitab al-Musaahif.
Kitab al-Musaahif was compiled by Abu Bakr Abdullah bin Abi Dawood. He was born in 230 A.H. and died in 316 A.H. He is the son of Imam Abu Dawood, the collector and compiler of Sunan Abu Dawood . Here are some excerpts from this book:
-> Imam Ibn Abi Dawood reports on the authority of ‘Urwah bin Zubair that, when many Qurrahs were martyred, Abu Bakr (R) feared that the Quran might get lost forever this way. So he asked ‘Umar (R) and Zaid bin Thabit (R) to sit at the door of the Prophet’s mosque and write down anything in the Quran if anyone could bring two witnesses regarding the Book of Allah. -> Imam Ibn Abu Dawood reports on the authority of ‘Abd Khair that he heard ‘Ali (R) saying that Abu Bakr (R) will get great reward in connection with the Musaahif. May God shower His mercy on him because he is the first person who collected the Quran and put it into a book form. -> Imam Ibn Abu Dawood reports on the authority of Salem and Khaarija that Abu Bakr (R) compiled the Quran on paper. He then requested Zaid bin Thabit to have a look at it but he refused. Then Abu Bakr (R) enlisted the help of ‘Umar (R) to persuade Zaid bin Thabit to look at it which he did. These manuscripts remained with Abu Bakr (R) until he died. Then they remained with ‘Umar (R) until he died. Then they remained with Hafsa. When Khalifa ‘Uthman (R) asked for them, Hafsa refused to give them until she got the promise that he would return them. After copying these manuscripts ‘Uthman (R) returned the original to Hafsa. These remained with Hafsa until Marwaan burnt them. -> Imam Ibn Abu Dawood reports on the authority of Yahya bin Abd al-Rahman bin Haatib that it was ‘Umar (R) who decided to compile the Quran. He gave a sermon asking the people to bring him any papers, wood plates, leafstalks of date palms, on which they might have written any verses of the Quran after listening to the Prophet (PBUH). ‘Umar (R) did not accept anything from anyone unless he obtained confirmation of two witnesses for everything brought to him. Meantime ‘Umar (R) was martyred. Then ‘Uthman (R) followed the same principle of accepting from people verses of the Quran only with confirmation from two witnesses. Then Khazima bin Thabit came and told ‘Uthman (R) that he (‘Uthman) had left out two verses from his collection which he (Khazima bin Thabit) used to hear from the Prophet (PBUH). ‘Uthman (R) asked Khazima bin Thabit where he should place these verses. Khazima bin Thabit suggested putting them at the end of the Surah that was revealed last. So, these two verses were put at the end of Surah Baraat (also known as Tauba). [Apparently, there is an error in this hadith. According to Nasai and Muslim (books included in the six most authentic Sunni books of ahaadith), Surah Nasr is the last revealed Surah of the Quran.]
What could be more important than the compilation of the Quran in book form? Yet, we see several contradictions in the ahaadith dealing with this subject. Indeed, from these ahaadith, it is even questionable as to who originally thought of this idea, Abu Bakr (R) or Umar (R). Then there is an apparent contradiction between hadith 201 and 510 of Bukhari. In hadith no. 201 Zaid bin Thabit does not mention any problem with a verse from Surah Ahzab when he originally compiled the Quran at the request of Abu Bakr (R). In fact, he was concerned with some other verses, the last two verses of Surah Tauba, which he finally found with Khuzaima.
Also, the idea that two witnesses were enough to include verses in the Quran does not seem right. The final Book of Allah could not depend on the authenticity of two witnesses. What if they erred, even if they were honest? And there is always room for distortion of words and verses by the enemies of Islam. There were plenty of enemies of Islam at the time. Who could have prevented their sinister designs against the Book of Allah if all that was necessary was to have two witnesses before including verses in the Quran? Assuming that the people who gave written input were completely honest (although this cannot be guaranteed 100%), and assuming that the two witnesses were also completely honest and did not make any honest mistakes (although this cannot also be guaranteed 100%), still there remain many unanswered questions. The scattered verses and the chapters had to be arranged in the correct order. How could anyone (or any group) do this in the absence of the Prophet (PBUH)?
We can say (and those scholars who support all these ahaadith do say) that the Arabs then had good memories and that there were people among the Companions who had memorized ( Huffaz ) the entire Quran. Sure, they could have helped here. But if that was the case, why call on all those who had written down verse(s) of the Quran and why the need for witnesses? Why not bring together all the Huffaz who had committed to memory the entire Quran and let them recite every verse of every Surah, in order? Why not write the Quran that way? This would have had the added benefit of these Huffaz corroborating each other like the way it is done nowadays during the Taraawee‘h prayers. Also, these Huffaz must have been truly dedicated to the Quran. Otherwise, they could not have committed the entire Quran to memory.
On the other hand, if these Huffaz had only memorized parts of the Quran, then they could tell the order of the verses within the Surahs they had memorized but they could not tell the order of the Surahs of the entire Quran. Then the only person who could tell with 100% surety about the order of all the Surahs would be the Prophet (PBUH).
It is clear, then, that the complete Quran must have been written down in book form during the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH), most probably, on paper. After all, paper just didn’t suddenly appear during Khalifa ‘Uthman’s period. Paper was around during the Prophet’s time. Our Prophet (PBUH) wrote letters to the kings of Abyssinia and of Iran, on paper. So, it is inconceivable that he would not have used paper for the Quran, the most valuable message for humanity.
The fact is no one else except the Prophet (PBUH) could have received any instructions from Allah about the compilation of the Quran in book form. The Prophet (PBUH) must have employed the best scribes to write the revelation and he personally must have checked the written text for accuracy. The Quran itself tells us that these scribes were truthful and most honorable ( 80:15-16 ). As Muslims, we are obliged to believe that our Prophet (PBUH) faithfully discharged his duty of delivering the Quran to humanity in the form of a written book. Its proof is in our hands.
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Under the influence of the Samaritans, the Arabs proceeded to cast Muhammad in the role of Moses as the leader of an exodus (hijra), as the bearer of a new revelation (Koran) received on an appropriate (Arabian) sacred mountain, Mt. Hira. It remained for them to compose a sacred book. CC point to the tradition that the Koran had been many books but of which ‘Uthman (the third caliph after Muhammad) had left only one. We have the further testimony of a Christian monk who distinguishes between the Koran and the Surat al-baqara as sources of law. In other documents, we are told that Hajjaj (661-714), the governor of Iraq, had collected and destroyed all the writings of the early Muslims. Then, following Wansbrough, CC conclude that the Koran, "is strikingly lacking in overall structure, frequently obscure and inconsequential in both language and content, perfunctory in its linking of disparate materials and given to the repetition of whole passages in variant versions. On this basis it can be plausibly argued that the book [Koran] is the product of the belated and imperfect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions."
The Samaritans had rejected the sanctity of Jerusalem, and had replaced it by the older Israelite sanctuary of Shechem. When the early Muslims disengaged from Jerusalem, Shechem provided an appropriate model for the creation of a sanctuary of their own.
The parallelism is striking. Each presents the same binary structure of a sacred city closely associated with a nearby holy mountain, and in each case the fundamental rite is a pilgrimage from the city to the mountain. In each case the sanctuary is an Abrahamic foundation, the pillar on which Abraham sacrificed in Shechem finding its equivalent in the rukn [the Yamai corner of the Ka'ba] of the Meccan sanctuary. Finally, the urban sanctuary is in each case closely associated with the grave of the appropriate patriarch: Joseph (as opposed to Judah in the Samaritan case, Ishmael (as opposed to Isaac) in the Meccan.
CC go on to argue that the town we now know as Mecca in central Arabia (Hijaz) could not have been the theater of the momentous events so beloved of Muslim tradition. Apart from the lack of any early non-Muslim references to Mecca, we do have the startling fact that the direction in which the early Muslims prayed (the qibla) was northwest Arabia. The evidence comes from the alignment of certain early mosques, and the literary evidence of Christian sources. In other words, Mecca, as the Muslim sanctuary, was only chosen much later by the Muslims, in order to relocate their early history within Arabia, to complete their break with Judaism, and finally establish their separate religious identity.
In the rest of their fascinating book, CC go on to show how Islam assimilated all the foreign influences that it came under in consequence of their rapid conquests; how Islam acquired its particular identity on encountering the older civilizations of antiquity, through its contacts with rabbinic Judaism, Christianity (Jacobite and Nestorian), Hellenism and Persian ideas (Rabbinic Law, Greek philosophy, Neoplatonism, Roman Law, and Byzantine art and architecture). But they also point out that all this was achieved at great cultural cost: "The Arab conquests rapidly destroyed one empire, and permanently detached large territories of another. This was, for the states in question, an appalling catastrophe."
In Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (1980), Patricia Crone dismisses the Muslim traditions concerning the early caliphate (down to the 680s) as useless fictions. In Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (1987), she argues that many so-called historical reports are "fanciful elaborations on difficult Koranic passages." In the latter work, Crone convincingly shows how the Koran "generated masses of spurious information." The numerous historical events which are supposed to have been the causes of certain revelations (for example, the battle of Badr, see above), "are likely to owe at least some of their features, occasionally their very existence, to the Quran." Clearly storytellers were the first to invent historical contexts for particular verses of the Koran. But much of their information is contradictory (for example, we are told that when Muhammad arrived in Medina for the first time it was torn by feuds, and yet at the same time we are asked to believe that the people of Medina were united under their undisputed leader Ibn Ubayyl), and there was a tendency "for apparently independent accounts to collapse into variations on a common theme" (for example, the large number of stories which exist around the theme of "Muhammad’s encounter with the representatives of non-Islamic religions who recognize him as a future prophet"). Finally, there was a tendency for the information to grow the further away one went from the events described; for example, if one storyteller should happen to mention a raid, the next one would tell you the exact date of this raid, and the third one would furnish you even more details. Waqidi (d. 823), who wrote years after Ibn Ishaq (d. 768),
will always give precise dates, locations, names, where Ibn Ishaq has none, accounts of what triggered the expedition, miscellaneous information to lend color to the event, as well as reasons why, as was usually the case, no fighting took place. No wonder that scholars are fond of Waqidi: where else does one find such wonderfully precise information about everything one wishes to know? But given that this information was all unknown to Ibn Ishaq, its value is doubtful in the extreme. And if spurious information accumulated at this rate in the two generations between Ibn Ishaq and Waqidi, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and Ibn Ishaq.
It is obvious that these early Muslim historians drew on a common pool of material fabricated by the storytellers.
Crone takes to task certain conservative modern historians, such as Watt, for being unjustifiably optimistic about the historical worth of the Muslim sources on the rise of Islam. And we shall end this chapter on the sources with Crone’s conclusions regarding all these Muslim sources:
[Watt’s methodology rests] on a misjudgment of these sources. The problem is the very mode of origin of the tradition, not some minor distortions subsequently introduced. Allowing for distortions arising from various allegiances within Islam such as those to a particular area, tribe, sect or school does nothing to correct the tendentiousness arising from allegiance to Islam itself. The entire tradition is tendentious, its aim being the elaboration of an Arabian Heilgeschichte, and this tendentiousness has shaped the facts as we have them, not merely added some partisan statements we can deduct.
Most of the articles in this collection were originally published more than fifty years ago (and a couple dare to the nineteenth century), when there was little consistency in the way Arabic terms were transliterated into English. Thus, the name of Islam’s holy book was variously written as Kortan, Kur’an, Quran, Qur’an, Coran, etc., and the name of Islam’s Prophet was transliterated as Mahomet, Mohammed, Muhammad, etc. To leave the diverse forms of these names, and many other Arabic terms, would confuse the reader; in some cases it might even obscure the fact that two authors are discussing the same person or text. Therefore, the original spellings have been changed where necessary to make them conform to modern usage and to ensure that a consistent spelling is used in every article.
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